Football History | What We Have to be Thankful For

The game as we now know it is unrecognisable from the game adored by our grandads and grandmothers; choreographed dance routines have replaced more conservative celebrations while the once sacred pre-match pint is no more. Gone are the days of local painter and decorator companies adorning the sides of stadiums, replaced now by Qatari airlines and Chinese banks.

It is undeniable that the era of bursting balconies and sodden stadiums paved the way for the game we recognise today and so, we thought we’d wax nostalgic about football history and what it once looked like “as it is no longer what it used to be,” according to your grandad.

1930-1949 | The Interwar Years

Prior to the interwar years, the game bared no resemblance whatsoever to what we now know and so, we’ve decided to begin with two of perhaps the most turbulent decades in football history: the 1930s and 40s.

The 1930s saw the emergence of notable players including Mathews, Lawton and Shankly yet it was Herbert Chapman, a manager, who revolutionised the game beyond recognition. Tantamount to Shankly who managed Huddersfield Town in 1956-1959, Chapman managed the team from 1921-1925 and although he would go on to win the same amount of trophies with Arsenal as he would with Huddersfield, it was his groundbreaking ideas that earnt him the nickname the ‘moderniser’ and a place in football history.

Formations, numbered shirts, both teams walking out together in the cup final: these were just some of the ideas Chapman implemented during his career, while his iconic ‘WM’ formation paved the way for what we now know to be 3-4-3, the formation that won Antonio Conte the Premier League in 2017.

Like Shankly to follow and Bernabeu before him, Chapman’s workings can be seen in the planning of Pep Guardiola; his value of what would become sports science is evident in Marco Silva; his aura pervaded every action of Sir Alex Ferguson and thus, he set the standard for the modern game back in 1934.

1950-1974 | A Bastion of Invincibility

Chapman was an innovator, a panoramic mind in an era of inward thinking. However, in 1959, Shankly re-reconsidered the role of manager when he nabbed control of one of the bastions of the beautiful game: Liverpool.

The way in which Shankly managed Liverpool can not only be seen in the manner in which Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger managed their clubs in an omnipotent fashion, but it can also be seen in how we lambaste the short-termism in the modern game as we are culpable of expecting every manager to build a dynasty just like Shankly did.

This is not to say however, that Shankly was the only manager ever to “circle the wagons” as Ferguson would say, around his club, yet he was pioneering in the sense that he combined his teams underdog status with that of a population who knew nothing else but to fight for what it had.

This is something some modern managers have imitated, be it David Moyes who proclaimed that Everton were “the people’s club” or Fergusons nurturing of The Class of ’92 while some, on the other hand, have failed spectacularly.

Nevertheless, Shankly paved the way for the modern bastions, the all-encompassing juggernauts who manage teams today.

2009-2019 | The Modern Modernisers

Football history

And so, what of todays ‘modernisers’ who those over a certain age say aren’t deserving of comparison to Shankly or Chapman?

One man who has captured the essence of the city in which he works is Jurgen Klopp. The German gets Liverpool, while his innovative gegenpressing approach is sure to be copied by those managing in the future. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka tactic is as groundbreaking as Chapman’s ‘WM’ formation was.

What we can conclude from looking back is that while football continues to change those who adore it don’t, as what draws you in is a sense of wonderment that never seems to dwindle.

The Shankly Hotel

Football history

Celebrate football history by staying in the stunning Shankly Hotel while also basking in the memorabilia covered walls of the spectacular Bastion Bar & Restaurant.

The beautiful hotel is perfect for overnight stays or just watching the Liverpool match. Sound exciting? Get in touch with our friendly team today by calling 0151 236 0166 or email reservations@shankly.com

Keep up to date with everything going on at the hotel by following The Shankly Hotel Facebook or test your knowledge of football history by attempting our Liverpool quiz.

Bill Shankly as Remembered by the People of Liverpool

Bill Shankly was a true hero of Merseyside. Not only for his raging success in turning Liverpool football Club into the undeniable force it is today, but for his demeanour and connection with the people of the city he came to call home.

If he wasn’t driving down the street with Nessie’s knickers stuck to his car roof, he was touching the lives of many, many people in Liverpool

To help celebrate The Shankly Hotel’s second birthday, we invited our Facebook followers to share some of their stories of the great man himself, offering an endearing insight into how Liverpool’s greatest football manager was a down to earth and well-loved man.

“Sometimes you have to lose to know how to win” – Bill Shankly Remembered

 

“When I was 11 my Dad used to run the local Boxing club when I had my first fight I was so excited partly because it was my first fight but mainly because Bill Shankly was giving the trophies out.

Well, I got beat and instead of picking up my runners up trophy I ran out of the ring and into the changing room. I was really upset because in my eyes I had let my Dad down and I had done it in front of the great man. My Dad was trying to console me saying it would be ok.i wasn’t having any of it. Then in came Shanks which reduced me to a blubbering jelly.

You forgot this and gave me the runners up trophy. He put his hand on my shoulder and said: ‘Don’t worry son sometimes you have to lose to know how to win.’

With that he went out to watch the next bout. There was me with a smile as wide as the Mersey I’ve never ever forgot that day and told the story many times over the years. The word legend is used too often these days but in my eyes, there couldn’t be a more appropriate word to describe Shanks”

Barry Robinson

The Letter to a Fellow Footballer

Bill Shankly Remembered

“This is the letter Bill Shankly sent to Jeff Twentyman the father of my friend Will Twentyman congratulating him on his move to Liverpool and his step up from the third division to the first which is now the premier league and top tier of English football.

This letter which also features in his book the secret diary of a Liverpool scout all about the scouting work Jeff did as he continued to be a great servant to the club for many years after he finished playing for them.

The reason the story is also amusing is because the reason behind the move was a floodlight fire causing part of the ground at the club he was at before was the reason he was sold as the most valuable player at the club at that time to raise funds!”

Joanne Noone

Mobbed at a Charity Football Match

“In the early 1970’s, when I was about ten, the local football team Poulton Victoria had a football pitch at the back of our house in Wallasey and they hosted a charity match with some big celebrities such as Rod Stewart and Jimmy Hill and it was even filmed by the BBC!

Towards the end of the game Bill Shankly turned up and was absolutely mobbed by fans, I was so overwhelmed I touched his coat and he looked down at me and smiled.

I can still feel that coat, it was a brown raincoat and the memory is as fresh as yesterday over 40 years later.”

Pamela Quinn

Bill Shankly’s Toilet

“We used to play football on Barnfield Playing fields now known as the Shankly playing fields when I was about 10. We had our jackets as posts and he lived opposite and used to come across and ref.

One day I needed the loo and was about to leave early but instead, he took me home to his to use his toilet so I didn’t miss the footy. Couldn’t believe I was sat on his loo. He also told me that if I wanted to play for Liverpool I should play for a team instead of watching them.

I did just that on his say so. Never played for Liverpool but love playing and love Mr Shankly as we used to call him. An absolute legend who always looked out for us kids.”

Keith Duckworth

Always the Life of the Party

 

“It was either the 1971 or 1973 FA Cup Final when I would have been 10 or 12 years old. We were having a street party for the cup final in Handel Street (which was off Lodge Lane but sadly no longer there).

The road was partially blocked off due to the party and a car came down the street, stopped and out got Bill Shankly. He was made up we were having a street party for Liverpool. He stayed for a while and chatted to all the adults and children. I said “Hello Mr Shankly” and he shook my hand.

I couldn’t believe how friendly and down to earth he was and the memory will last forever.”

Jackie Curry

The Man Who Could Walk on Water

“When my husband and I were walking down Muirhead Avenue one afternoon Bill was waiting in his car for his wife Nessie to come out of the hairdressers.

My hubby asked him if it was true that he could walk on water. Bill looked him straight in the eye and said ‘Aye laddie aye.’”

Jeff Campbell

One thing is for sure, the people of Liverpool loved Bill Shankly and Bill Shankly loved Liverpool. Although he was raised in Scotland, the people and the city of Liverpool will always have space in their heart for the man that changed football forever.